Hi folks! It has been quite a while since I’ve blogged! Every time I think I am getting settled down I end up busy as bee! This time it is because I have been flat out painting! Since I haven’t written in a while I thought I would try to catch up by introducing my latest work -St. John’s Road.
This painting is a very personal tribute to the memory of my great great grandfather, Michael P. Lewis, and every Newfoundland Regiment soldier from my community and across Newfoundland who courageously served during WW1 and in particular during the Battle of the Somme (Beaumont-Hamel).
The title of this piece is “St. John’s Road” – 18×24 Acrylic. As you can see, the composition of this piece is symbolic, rather than realistic. Throughout the piece you can see many representational components that would not typically be found in one ‘landscape’. For those who are wondering what you are looking at here is a little info about the composition.
- Why the sign? – St. John’s Road was the name of the support trench where the 1st Newfoundland Regiment emerged from during the attack at Beaumont-Hamel (hence my title). The trench system was so elaborate they were given names and signs were placed. I sure it was to help soldiers navigate.
- You will note the poppy which is a national symbol of sacrifice and remembrance of those lost to war. It is intertwined by the Forget Me Not flowers. Prior to Confederation, the Forget Me Not flowers were worn by Newfoundlanders as a symbol of respect for the Newfoundland Regiment and in remembrance of the First World War.
- The blue leg wraps –Soldiers wore bandage type wrap to cover the lower part of the leg from the knee to ankle. The first 500 Newfoundland Regiment soldiers went to war with blue leg coverings which were not the standard khaki colour. This resulted in the nickname for the first 500 as the Blue Puttee.
- The caribou – a symbol of the strength and bravery of the Newfoundland soldiers which was the identity the Newfoundland Regiment was formed under. Later a caribou statue was placed in the Newfoundland War Memorial park at Beaumont-Hamel and at other memorials including here in St. John’s. You will notice the hill the caribou is on seems out of place compared to the other side of the trench. In reality it would have been much the same. What you are seeing is at it stands at the Newfoundland Park in current time.
- Each soldier is also representational. The very large soldier, the most prominent represents those who lost their lives. The two on the right represent those who went over the wall into “no man’s land”. The two soldiers on the left represent the comradery and support the Newfoundland soldiers were known for. The solo soldier on the right with the easy going stance and hands in pockets seems quite out of place, but he is representative of the loneliness and desolation they must have felt – practically babies fighting wars away from their families.
For those who are interested, what follows is a little background on how this piece came about and why it is so personal and meaningful for me. Last year, close to Remembrance Day, I was thinking a lot about the individuals from my hometown of Fleur de Lys who went off to the wars. During this period of time, I was in the process of doing some historical research and I was learning about the many brave humans who contributed, some with their lives, to both the first and second World Wars from this very small town. To say I got lost in research is an understatement. I went down a rabbit hole as you might say. While I was searching in particular for information on my great grandfather who on May 6th, 1916 at the age of 18 became a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment the seeds for a painting began growing in my mind. My searching led me to discover more about Newfoundland’s contributions to the war. July 1, 1916 in Beaumont Hamel, during the Battle of the Somme, Newfoundland suffered staggering loss. Of the 800 who went to battle, more than 700 were killed or wounded. I could only imagine how that news reached the people left in my community. The further I researched the more I was adding to the pictures in my head for this painting. I suppose an understanding of what it meant to leave for a war; the horrors that were lived for those who went and for family left at home had become a little more real to me. At the time, I was also helping my cousin obtain a memorial headstone from the Last Post Fund for my great great grandfather, Michael Lewis after locating his burial site which was unknown since 1948. I honor the following soldiers from Fleur de Lys with this piece. WW1 – Members of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment from Fleur de Lys: Pte. John Hartery # 1406, Pte. Michael P. L. Head # 3340, Pte. George Lewis # 5617, Pte. Michael P. Lewis (Muk) # 4911, Pte. Patrick Alexander Noftall # 3174, Pte. George W. Tobin # 4336, Pte. Michael Joseph Noftall # 5635, Pte. Joe Shelley
And WW2 -Overseas NL Forestry Unit from Fleur de Lys (I stand to be corrected, but it is my understanding that during WW2, Fleur de lys had the highest rate of volunteers in Canada per capita and that the recruiters were turning many away, so that one community would not feel the great loss.) Bernard Walsh # 2805 (Home Guard), Dennis Walsh # 2806, Louis Walsh # 415, George Hedderson # 299 (Home Guard), Edward Lewis # 2782 (Forces), Gordon Lewis # 2783 (Forces), Victor Lewis # 302 (Forces), Anthony Traverse, Dave Barrett, Pat. J Barrett, Steve Barrett, George Hedderson, Tom Hedderson, Jack Lewis, Joe Lewis, Gus Lewis, Ned Lewis, Mary Jo Lewis, Jack Quigley, Gerald Shea, Joe Shea, Jim Shelley, George Shelley, Frank Shelley, Howard Dollimont (St. Josephs, NL), and Oscar Boutell (Rochester NY). May they all rest in peace.
St. John’s Road Prints are now available to order on my website!
I have also added some new prints and originals which are for sale! Check them out at at my webstore! https://margielewisart.ca/product-category/prints/
Contest on my Facebook Page
With one year of painting under my belt, I have decided to have a contest on my Facebook page to celebrate!!! LIKE my page, SHARE the contest post and COMMENT for your chance to win a print of this painting for yourself and Tag a friend who will win a print of it if you are the winner! DRAWING October 31st at 12 noon NL time. Each share and Tag gets you a chance to win!
I really enjoyed painting the birds and feel each one has their own personality! I hope you like it as much as I do! Let me know what you think!
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